Nine months after January’s devastating earthquake, Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince is struggling to rise again. Rubble lies everywhere; it’s as if the quake happened yesterday. American engineers say only two per cent of the debris has been cleared, with some 25 million cubic metres still to be moved.
“Rubble removal is just not rubble removal, you don’t just go in, pick it up and head on out,” said Charleene Dei, the director of the USAID mission in Haiti. “It is a process. First of all, you have to identify the site, you need to know who the owner is, you can’t just go in and move rubble off the site; you need to know who owns it and does he want it removed and what are his plans for that particular site.”
The problems are enormous: promises of money and aid flooded in from around the world after the quake, but much of it is yet to appear. Then there are specific local difficulties: there’s nowhere to put the rubble and Haiti’s dirt roads are often too narrow for the trucks.
And even when they can move, USAID says it would take a thousand trucks a thousand days to move it all.